Something Not to Do When Writing a Book For Atheist Parents

Something Not to Do When Writing a Book For Atheist Parents August 19, 2015

Courtesy of XKCD
Courtesy of xkcd

I’d like to offer a piece of advice:

If you decide to write a book about something super-controversial (say, for the sake of argument, atheism) and pair it with a subject that makes people rabidly defensive and judgmental (like parenting), then — wait, hold on, you would never do that. I mean, that would be so goddamn stupid, right? Why would anyone ever…

Okay, I know, I get it. But let’s just say that you throw caution to the wind and write a book about said subjects. Then let’s say you are invited to be interviewed on a national news program. Now let’s say the interviewer gives you seven questions in six minutes and, in that allotted time, you have to sort of sum up your entire philosophy for public consumption without looking like an idiot or making the producers look like idiots for inviting you on the show in the first place. And then let’s say, afterward, that the entire interview goes on the Internet — that bastion of grace and good manners.

Good, so let’s say all that happens.

Here’s my advice: Don’t read the comments.

I know you may want to. You may even think it’s your “duty” to read the comments — you are wrong! It’s not! Because when you read the comments, you will feel compelled to respond to some of the commenters, particularly the high hats who parse your sentences to death and assign you all kinds of ulterior motives. (Is there even such a thing as the “benefit of the doubt” anymore? Does anyone allow themselves, or each other, the gift of doubt anymore?)

It’s just simpler to walk away. Walk away from the computer. Just walk. Away.

And yet. Sigh. I didn’t take my own advice — and now it’s too late. Now, I must respond.

My next three posts will tackle the top three issues people seem to have with me and my message. Maybe it will help clarify some things. Maybe it won’t. Whatever.

Part One: ‘It’s Not What You Believe, But What You Do in Life That Matters’: An ExplainerBoth non-believers and believers have had a field day seizing on this as a “fallacy” in my thinking. Behavior is determined by belief, they say. You can’t separate the two. And yet, I do! It must be magic! Look for that one on Monday.*

Part Two: Does Raising Kids Without God-Induced Morality Require Moral Relativism? My contention — that you can raise kids to be moral and ethical while letting them choose their own religious/nonreligious worldviews — has raised the ire of many, mostly Christians. We are moral because we are made in God’s image, these folks say. You can’t teach kids to be good without explaining where ‘good’ comes from. Or are you some sort of moral relativist freak?? I’ll answer that one on Wednesday.

Part Three: Do Secular Parents Have a Duty to Teach Their Kids About Religion? Man alive. You might think that making an argument that kids should be exposed to/educated about religion would be a no-brainer. And yet, um, not even close. At least according to PBS Facebook commenters. I’ll tackle this one next Friday — Aug. 28.

Tune in. Or don’t. Just try to be nice about it, will you?


* These dates changed slightly from the original post.

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